Cemetery Man is a pretty crude title for such a beautiful and original movie. Right from the start, you feel that European sensibility and that you’re about to witness something special. Fucking Italians. They have this peculiar vision of horror, humor, and beauty, blending them together into a beautiful harmony of sights and sounds. The unbridled artistic freedom to pursue your vision is something that’s rarely seen in movies. Well, at least commercial ones. Cemetery Man or Dellamorte Dellamore as it’s also known, took me completely by surprise. By the way, Dellamorte means “of death” while Dellamore means “of love”.
I have seen so many movies and yet I have not seen something like this. It’s like someone was going down the checklist of all the things I like and added a few new ones. Ones I didn’t even know I would enjoy so immensely. This is a movie based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi, creator of Dylan Dog. You can check out the 2010 adaptation Dylan Dog: Dead of The Night to find out more. Just know that the fans of the comic book didn’t like it much. I found it to be quite entertaining. However, it’s nowhere near the levels this movie set.
The atmosphere is dark, gothic, and very lively despite the fact that most of the story takes place in a cemetery. As you might have guessed Cemetery Man is a horror-comedy featuring zombies. However, it also features a love story and a story about an ordinary man with a very difficult job. I mean, we all feel sometimes like Francesco Dellamorte, toiling away at our mundane jobs only to see our zombies rise up the next day. Same shit, different day as they so aptly say.
And while this combination is all the rage these days back in 1994, there were only a handful of movies like this. Good ones I mean, before you start listing all the shlocky Evil Dead rip-offs. Although I will admit that Rupert Everett does look a little like a lankier Bruce Campbell. However, he has this facial expression that I think Bruce couldn’t pull off. I can’t quite describe it, like he’s accepted his nihilistic duty and expects nothing good from the future. But you can see that there’s a glimmer of hope in him.
Francesco Dellamorte works at the cemetery in the small town of Buffalora in Italy where almost nothing happens. And by almost nothing I mean, of course, that the dead are rising from their graves each and every night. Francesco is in charge of returning them where they belong. His dimwitted assistant Gnaghi helps him dispatch the living dead and serves as a version of a friend. However, all of that is going to change when she shows up. A stunningly beautiful girl mourning the passing of her husband. And from there, things will escalate.
Cemetery Man feels like a very small and personal movie. It’s also a zombie movie with brains, adding this ethereal quality to the otherwise too mechanical concept. I recommend you watch it at least twice to fully understand what it’s about. Something that shouldn’t be too difficult considering that looks fucking amazing. Not only the practical effects are superbly done but there’s also loads of nudity in Cemetery Man. And possibly the best set of boobs ever to grace the big screen. And I really mean that.
I know that to some of you, this movie might come off as cheesy. Moreover, you might think that it really has no story. I beg to differ. The story is there, it’s just that it’s told in a different way. It explores love, hate, friendship, morality, sexuality, and other intriguing subjects. It even touches upon an existential crisis. Plus, it’s been so long now since its original release that you might be that cool film guy who knows about this hidden gem.
Speaking of cool guys, Rupert Everett was fucking awesome here. I thought that the guy was always making these sappy romantic comedies and instead he stars in this bizarre masterpiece. François Hadji-Lazaro was almost terrifying as grotesque Gnaghi. And what can I say about She, miss Anna Falchi? She fucking stole my heart here for all eternity. Now, I almost forgot to mention all the gore. And there will be quite a few nasty and graphic scenes. Nothing like Fulci’s work but still jarring enough to raise a few eyebrows. Especially that fucking bus scene.
Finally, I would like to get a bit philosophical on you, if you would allow me. You can watch Cemetery Man as a metaphor for life itself. You wake up every morning and go to work fully knowing that tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today. Subsequently, you try to numb the pain with cigarettes and alcohol. People don’t really appreciate the work you do and you as a person. The only friend you have is, well, Gnaghi but you treat him well and don’t take his friendship for granted. Then you get one shot at love and fucking miss it. And it’s back to the mines. Or maybe that’s just my life…
Director: Michele Soavi
Writers: Tiziano Sclavi, Gianni Romoli
Cast: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche
Fun Facts: The cemetery in the movie is actually a real cemetery in Italy. It’s supposedly not in use anymore.